snub for housing project

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PROPOSALS to build 5,000 homes in Thetford have received a blow after the town council raised objections.

A meeting of Thetford Town Council’s planning committee saw councillors criticise plans for the Thetford Sustainable Urban Extension because the homes were too concentrated in one area.

The development is based on land owned by the Kilverstone and Crown Estates to the north of Thetford.

Councillors said they would like to see the 5,000 homes spread across the town.

Speaking after last Wednesday’s meeting, Cllr Terry Jermy said: “The biggest concern we have is that all 5,000 homes are concentrated on one side of Thetford.

“Not enough effort has been put into regeneration and working on brownfield sites. There are derelict sites all over the town which could be regenerated instead of using all that green space.”

Cllr Jermy also raised fears that people who lived on the new development might not be engaged with the rest of the town.

“What we really don’t want is everyone moving in to shiny new houses at Thetford North and going off every day to Norwich and Cambridge on the A11.

“We are not objecting to new homes, it’s just the concentration,” he said.

Cllr Terry Lamb, chairman of the planning committee, went further, questioning the need for extra housing in the town.

He said: “We have had growth in Thetford before with overspill and frankly the town is worse off than it was.

“There is an obsession with growth at the moment but just having more people doesn’t make you better off.

“Unfortunately, if they want growth, the only places houses seem to be able to go is to the north of the town.”

A spokesman for property firm Pigeon, which entered the outline planning application on behalf of the Kilverstone and Crown Estates, said previous consultation with the town council had been ‘very constructive’.

He said: “We have reduced the number of dwellings significantly during extensive consultation and the planning application reflects these changes.

“We are sure that the resulting plans will provide a new neighbourhood that the local community will be proud of and that they will make a real contribution to the future of the town.”

The town council’s representations will now be put forward to Breckland Council. The date of when a decision will be made is yet to be confirmed while consultation continues. If the application is approved, it is hoped that work will begin in 2012 with a projected completion date of 2026.